Why I’m not a perfect dog mum

Holly&me

 

So this is my beautiful girl Holly – isn’t she just the most gorgeous black lab you have ever seen?? Well I may be a bit biased but i think she is pretty amazing!

If I’m being honest, at the same time, she can drive me nuts, and I mean completely nuts. I would actually prefer to be in a room with 20 screaming toddlers pulling their fingers down chalkboards than spend time with her sometimes.

Its been a gradual progression…

Holly has always had an ‘energetic personality’, she was always named ‘wiggly butt’ and she was never keen on playing with other dogs at classes or being held – especially at the vets. In spite of this, she was a well mannered dog, having completed basic and advanced training at a local force free trainer. She also was socialised at dog parks and doggy day care from about four months of age.

I was a responsible dog owner, I did everything I could to make her journey from puppy to adulthood the best it could be.

When we moved to Hawaii in 2011, Holly was only 2 years of age. She seemed to cope with the flight well but immediately we noticed some changes in behaviour. Suddenly she didn’t cope well chasing the ball – the first couple of times it was put down to heat stroke, but after subsequent episodes, it was loosely diagnosed as EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse) which is a genetic condition, common in Labs and Retrievers. I chose not to get an official diagnoses because the only course of treatment was sedative drugs. I didn’t want that for her, especially since she was so young. I chose instead to change her lifestyle – no more ball games, and less strenuous activities like hiking and beach walks/swims.

In the coming months more undesirable behaviour followed, as I began to intern for a local trainer, I found her becoming more and more stressed on the lead and soon also becoming reactive. It was about this time I had found TTouch and I booked her into the only workshop I could, on the Big Island in Hawaii with Linda Tellington-Jones (the creator of the TTouch Method).

This was where had our big ‘AH HA!’ moment.

I realised a few things….

  • Holly was physically uncomfortable which impacted her ability to think.
  • Holly was acting out of fear – fear of other dogs, fear of my reaction, fear of being constrained on the leash.
  • The biggest setback for Holly was… ME!!

How I dealt with her on the leash, my behaviour, my stress level’s, the energy and ‘vibes’ i emitted during stressful situations made it so much harder for Holly.

How was she meant to cope when I couldn’t?

I was meant to be her advocate, her shelter, the thing the made her feel safest in the world and I just made it worse. I was letting her down.

Since that training in February of 2012 I spent the next two years becoming Holly’s advocate, understanding her needs and changing MY behaviour to affect hers; to help her feel safe again in the world.

Since the birth of my little man ‘P’ late in 2014, life, stress and baby has meant that I haven’t had the same dedication to Holly and her needs. Her behaviour, and mine, has deteriorated. We have slipped back into old patterns again and it just breaks my heart that we have gone right back to square one.

SO…. IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE!

In the past few weeks I have noticed Holly’s coat quality deteriorate, she has noticeable tension patterns and her behaviour has declined. She just can’t settle and would constantly pace around the house, inadvertently driving us batty in the process. I realised the problem was bigger than me, than my family and bigger than Holly. We needed help, TTouch is a great tool, but it wasn’t going to fix this alone.

I took her to Karen the Chinese Vet – She is a medically trained veterinarian who also practises chinese and holistic medicine. I knew she would be able to see Holly as she was; that everything was connected, her behaviour, her mental state, her inability to settle, her coat quality. It wasn’t just 4 seperate issues, they were all intertwined and linked together.

Within moments Karen agreed, they were all interlinked. She believed that Holly had liver issues, and can be attributed to a lot of her symptoms – which the bloods backed up days later. Holly also underwent some Acupuncture. She struggled to relax and be calm enough at the beginning but by the end you could see her closing her eyes, her respiration slowed and I could finally see her connecting with herself again.

The days that followed were better, far, far better! Her behaviour had diminished, she was more settled and it was obvious she was much more comfortable in her own skin. We could enjoy her again, and she could enjoy us.

We have another appointment with Karen today and I can’t wait to continue with Holly on this journey of improvement and healing. Ill definitely be keeping you posted!

Comments 2

  1. I’m so glad Holly is doing better. It’s so upsetting when they aren’t themselves. Lady was 3 when puppy Archie came along and she didn’t cope. She stopped playing with her toys and became quite depressed. A few months later she began to get along with him, but her mood wasn’t back to normal. Then I noticed blood in her urine and she was struggling to pee. After some investigation it turned out to be a large bladder stone and the day after surgery she was herself again. Just like the playful pup she was. I thought her personality was just changing as she got older and with Archie being introduced into the family, but she was in pain that whole time. And I felt horrible for not noticing sooner. Being a dog mum is tough sometimes!

  2. Thank you for sharing. Millie, you know Zara and I. I also thought Zara had EIC at one stage. Some Black Labs just do not enjoy walking over 27degC. You also are somewhat aware of my personal extreme anxiety issues. No wonder Zara senses this. We (Zara and I) have found each other in a better way, with also learning different techniques like Ttouch from you. As with any condition, be it a personal human one, or that of your dog, not quite understanding why…there is always a way to learn and practice different attitude and behaviors. I found after attending your workshop last year (and remembering that is a type of thing out side my comfort zone), this gave us more skills to cope and work with. IE, we see you again for a refresher. The saying is ‘practice makes perfect’. I am not looking for perfection. Only learning tools to work with. Millie, I very much appreciate your honesty. Cannot sat that I am not scared and anxious for our next workshop, yet need to have some faith and awareness, love and commitment … and esteem for my team, Zara and I. xx

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